Sunday, June 30, 2013

Loved it!

I so enjoy going to the movies but this summer, so far the only one I've seen is Leo's turn as Gatsby, and I really didn't enjoy it. So I'm happy to report that The Heat is a rollicking good time.

Sandra Bullock is charming and very funny. She's not afraid to look silly, and her willingness to be unlikeable only makes her more endearing.

Melissa McCarthy is a riot. Because she's such a physical comedienne it's easy to overlook her way with dialog. The way she tosses off, "Was he a hearing man?" literally made me laugh out loud.

The theater was packed, which made me happy. It's good to see a movie starring two women bringing in the box office dollars the way The Man of Steel or Monsters University do.

But beware -- this is NOT a chick flick. It's vulgar and very violent. I spent much of the last half hour wincing and looking away.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sunday Stealing

The Summertime Meme

1.) What first tells you that Summer is here? Forget the calendar. For me, it's summer when I can get away with sandals and don't have to deal with socks.

2.) Name your five of your favorite distinctively Summer habits or customs. Maintained pedicure, sandals, beer, visit to Wrigley Field, frozen yogurt at the local stand

3.) What is your favorite smell of Summer?  Barbecue

4.) What is your favorite taste of Summer? Barbecue

5.) Favorite Summer memory? I have so many that revolve around Wrigley Field.

6.) Extreme heat or extreme cold? Which would you choose and why? I hate hot weather. Because I hate it, that's why. (Hot weather makes me grumpy. Don't fuck with me.)

7.) What books do you plan to read for the season? Right now I'm reading The Lost Husband. Next up is Bad Dog: A Love Story.

8.) What is your favorite part of summer? Singing "Go, Cubs, Go."

9.) What's your favorite quintessentially summer food? Least favorite? Favorite: barbecue. Least favorite: cantaloupe.

10.) Best beverage to beat the summer heat: Beer

11.) Least favorite/most annoying thing related to summer? Hot weather. Really, anything over 85º is excessive and in extremely bad taste.

12.) Pick one: the lake /the beach. I don't understand this question, in that I've never been to a lake that was surrounded by pavement. When you have a lake, you have a beach, don't you?

13.) Most amusing summer vacation trip you've ever taken? I don't travel over the summer. I visit friends in FL at Christmastime and take off by myself in the spring.

14.) Most ridiculous/cringe-inducing/blush-provoking summer outfit you have seen? (Bonus points if you yourself were wearing it!) Nothing specific comes to mind, although the thing that makes me cringe and look away is when people with white, cracked heels and thick, yellow nails insist on wearing sandals. Put a sock on it!

15.) Your absolute dream summer afternoon would be Sitting behind home plate at Wrigley Field.

16.) If you could go anywhere on summer vacation where would you go? I think it would be great fun to experience my hometown of Chicago like a tourist. Hit a museum or two, people watch at Navy Pier, stroll Oak Street at dusk and collapse into a really nice hotel, like the Whitehall, for a shower and then room service while wearing a nice, fluffy robe. Sigh. The only thing that keeps me from doing it right now is $$$. Maybe next year.

SHOUT OUT TO KATHY W: I do read your entries every week and you always make me smile. However, Google Plus or Google Chrome or whatever won't let me log in so I can't comment. Sorry. (And sorry about "the incident" on the boat.)

Woke up and found myself looking at Paul Newman (ca 1966)

Got up very early this morning and dropped a small bag of groceries off at the local food pantry before taking Reynaldo to the vet. When we got home I was exhausted. So I lay down on the new futon (just for a minute) and woke up more than an hour later to Paul Newman.

Harper is one of my favorite Newman movies. I know it's not art. No one in the movie is especially noble and yet many characters are very likeable, which presents something of a conundrum, morally. But it's very unselfconsciously funny -- thanks to Newman's innate charm and William Goldman's slick, smartassy script.

After the movie I did my grocery shopping (and even though I had a list I still forgot stuff -- stuff I forgot to put on the list!) and now I'm watching the Cub game and doing laundry (this week I'm bleaching my whites). And drinking a margarita. Feeling very zen. Tequila will do that.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Saturday 9

Thanks to Bankerchick for suggesting JT 
1) When was the last time that you got dressed up, or to borrow from Mr. Timberlake, "fixed up to the nines?" I don't even remember. I'm not kidding. It's been decades.

2) Justin Timberlake is known for his threads. Do you try to keep up with fashion trends? Well, I try to dress appropriately. Often what's fashionable isn't right for me any more.

3) While on tour, Justin has a cigar roller on call so that he and the band can enjoy a "gentleman's club" atmosphere back stage. Do you enjoy the smell of a good cigar? Yech. No.
4) Justin appeared on Star Search when still in grade school, and he's been working ever since. When Crazy Sam was that age, her only "job" was to load the dishwasher and for this she earned her $1/day allowance. Did you work when you were a kid? I babysat when I was in high school. Wish I still could. How great to get paid for eating potato chips and watching TV.

5) JT has appeared several times on Saturday Night Live, a show that premiered before he was born. Who is your most favorite ever SNL castmember of all time? Wasn't she something?

6) Justin is a very good golfer (6 handicap). Will you play this summer? Only at a course that will require me to putt the ball past a windmill.

7) A round of golf requires hours outside in the elements. Have you ever endured a painful sunburn? God, yes! The last really punishing one I got was during a sunny afternoon at my uncle's summer cottage. I blame santgria for clouding my judgement to the point where I didn't know when to come in from the sun.

8) When they were young, Justin dated Britney Spears. Obviously, it's been easy for him to keep up with her successes and problems over the years. Do you wonder how one of your exes is doing? Yes. There's a lovely man I loved once and I hope he's happy.

9) Ever since his days with N'Sync, Justin Timberlake has supported music education. Did your grade school offer music classes? If so, do you remember any of the songs you learned then?

We learned this for Parents' Night:

"He always sings ragtime music to his cattle 
As he swings back and forth on his saddle
On his horse, a pretty good horse, that syncopated gaiter
And it's such a pretty meter to the roar of his repeater
How they run when they hear his guns a comin'
Cuz the Western folks all know ...
He's a high-faluting
Rootin' Tootin'
Son of a gun from Arizona
Ragtime Cowboy, talkin' about your cowboy, Ragtime Cowboy Joe!"

We swayed, snapped our fingers in time and were totally hitsville!



Nothing is wrong, really.

•  I believe my recent work has been well received.

•  Reynaldo still has his moments -- today he was most definitely threatening to pee on last week's PEOPLE magazine -- but he is definitely better behaved than he was a month ago.

•  My attorney is crafting a letter to my older sister, in which he will carefully and professionally advise her to stop being such a stupid bitch. The letter she wrote to me last week was so bad that he refuses to formally represent her in any ongoing or future matters regarding our mother's house -- which means if she wants representation she will have to hire her own, on her own dime. While I'm sorry it's come to this and I don't wish her ill, I did find it satisfying that he found her awful. I mean, when our mom was alive, just about everything she did was overlooked or forgiven in order to maintain peace and she had tacit permission to treat me any way she wished. It's interesting to see her through an outsider's eyes and hear that my perceptions aren't off -- she is a stupid bitch.

•  The Blackhawks victory rally was today. I'm not a hockey fan, but it was exciting to see the parade run past my office building and I was happy for the faithful who have been singing "Chelsea Dagger."

Yet I find myself feeling so tired, so worn out by all of it. I'm still not comfortable at work and I
worry about my financial future. Today I had to return even more paperwork to the lawyer -- a notarized affidavit that states how many "heirs" my mom left -- and it's always depressing to fill out her vital stats (died on Sept. 13, 2012 at age 77).

And you know what's awful? I was worried as I worked my way through the crowds to get to the office today and I was nervous while the Hawks rally was going on. I kept thinking of how easy it would be for someone to set off a backpack bomb, a la Boston. After 9/11, I imbued Mayor Richard M. Daley with supernatural powers to keep us safe. But Daddy's Gone and so is some of my innocence and blind faith in these things. What happened at the Boston Marathon could have happened at the rally today, or at Taste of Chicago next month, or at any Cub game.

I feel like I'm living in a cold new world and I don't like it.

My oldest friend tells me to "Let go and let God." Yeah, yeah. That's very weak tea because it feels irrelevant to my personal relationship with Christ. For while I know Jesus loves me and wants what's best for me, I also know that He has promised me eternal life, NOT a smooth ride en route. I have free will, and He expects me to do my best during the tough times.

And so I continue to muddle through. Clinging to my faith, my cats, my books and my friends. Taking naps and being nice to myself. And watching the Cubs whenever I can because I'm always happier when I have baseball.

Image courtesy of Stock Images /

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thursday Thirteen #227



I admit it -- I stole this idea shamelessly from Kwizgiver.  The order is simply reflects how the songs came to me.

1) Solitary Man. Johnny Cash. Originally by Neil Diamond

2) Emotion. Destiny’s Child. Originally by Samantha Sang

3) River. James Taylor. Originally by Joni Mitchell. 

4) Money. The Beatles. Originally by Barrett Strong

5) You Don’t Know Me. Jann Arden.  Originally by Eddy Arnold

6) Me and Bobby McGee. Janis Joplin. Originally by Kris Kristofferson

7) Dedicated to the One I Love. The Mamas and the Papas. Originally by the Shirelles

8) Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Diana Ross. Originally by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

9) Both Sides Now. Judy Collins. Originally by Joni Mitchell.

10) Always Something There to Remind Me. Naked Eyes. Originally by Dionne Warwick

11) Stoney End. Barbra Streisand. Originally by Laura Nyro.

12) New York, New York. Frank Sinatra. Originally by Liza Minnelli.

13) Twist and Shout. The Beatles. Originally by the Isley Brothers.

For more about the Thursday 13, 
or to play along yourself, click here.

I'm good at this job

We presented concepts for The Big Project I began last Monday. We received client feedback this afternoon. Of the four we shared, two were chosen -- and both were mine.

Thank you, thank you very much.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My city is very happy this morning

Good for you, Blackhawks! This Cub fan can only imagine your joy.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fourteen! That's more than a dozen!

That's how many runs the Cubs scored today within the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. And I was there!

My friend Kathleen, her newly-graduated daughter and I sat in upper infield seats, out of the sun and in sight of the ivy and the iconic scoreboard.

The ball was flying off Cub bats and out of the park and it became such a route that I lost track of who was pitching for us after the 7th. So Kathleen, her daughter and I were just blabbing off and on for the last two innings.

We talked a lot about my work situation and Kathleen reassured me that if anything goes wrong and I lose my job, she'll do whatever she can to provide me with safety net of freelance work.

Her daughter was neat to talk to, since she is in that nether world between child and adult. She's off to school out east this fall to begin studying veterinary medicine. She's confident about wanting to get away and eager to learn about conserving endangered species in their natural habitats. Which isn't to say that when she's done, she won't be looking at spaying and neutering dogs and cats, but right now, that's her dream.

And I can't tell you how good it is for me to go to Wrigley Field. I have no bad memories attached to that place. None. Everything is good -- with family and friends and players that I have loved like friends and family. It is, for me, the happiest place on earth. I am a Cub fan, and I belong at Wrigley Field

Sunday Stealing


What kind of car would you buy?  I wouldn't. Very bad investment. A new car is worth less when you pull off the lot than it was a moment before. Then there's gas and insurance. No, thank you. I'd trade up from public transportation to cabs.

Where in the country would you move to?  I'd stay here, in Chicagoland.

What kind of house would you buy?  I've fantasized about this a lot. If money was no object (and I'm afraid even with $1,000,000, money might be an object to living my dream life), I'd move into the Palmolive Building. It's an restored art deco beauty on Michigan Avenue. I'd have views of Lake from my kitchen and balcony. And a doorman! I'd love to have someone there to sign for my packages and hail my cabs! Bliss!

Would you give your family any money? My niece would have help with her college debts. My nephew would be able to take the class trip to Washington DC he's dreaming about.

What charity would you donate to? The same ones I currently donate to. I'd just be more generous.

Would you give your friends any money? Of course. I'd especially love to help my friends in the Keys because they are good people, but really struggling.

Where would you go on vacation?  I'd love to do New York right. Luxury hotel, good restaurants, best seats at the show.

What luxury item would you buy first? Maybe that trip.

Would it change your life?  In some ways.

Would you save any of it?  Yes, for retirement

Would it change your current relationship? No, since my current relationship is with me.

Would you quit your job? I'd offer to go to part time. I'd love to keep the medical insurance.

Would you ever work again? I'd love to do charity work

What one task would you never do again?  HOUSEWORK!

What dream of yours would you be able to do?  Wake up without worrying about money

Would you change the way you dress? Not really.

Would you change anything about your body?  Well, I'd be in better shape because I'd have a trainer. And there are some superficial cosmetic-y things I'd love to have done.

Would you miss anything about not being rich?  No, because I'd be rich.

Who would be the first person you tell? Maybe my friends in the Keys.

Would it bring you happiness? Not in and of itself. But it would make my life easier.


Last night I went to the graduation party at my friend Kathleen's. I'd been dreading it. I knew it would be mostly couples -- people I haven't met. I knew my $50/per kid present (a $25 gift card each plus a donation to the Appalachian Service Project, the organization the family is part of and they build/repair houses for those under the poverty line each summer) was smaller than most they would receive.

But I had a wonderful time! It was a welcome respite from the agita caused by my older sister. I fussed over her son, a freshly-minted college graduate whose company I have always enjoyed, ever since I met him a pre-schooler. (Today I'm going to the Cubs game with Kathleen and her freshly-minted high school graduate daughter, so I'll ask her about her life plans then.) I spoke to Kathleen's next door neighbor about her completely charming 5-year-old daughter, who was quite a character. And I got an inspiring pep talk about going out on my own, becoming a freelance writer.

I didn't think about my problems again until I got home. Unfortunately, I woke up this morning with a killer migraine. I must NOT let my sister rob me of happiness like that!

And I have learned yet again the Elizabeth Edwards lesson -- which is to "find solace and strength from friends and strangers." When I feel overwhelmed, my instinct to go off by myself, to appear strong, may not always be the wisest path.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Livin' on a Prayer

1) This song tells the tale of Tommy, who works on the docks, and Gina, who works in a diner. Where do you work? In a large and very nice office building just off Chicago's Michigan Avenue. Unfortunately, my position does not feel very stable and the stress of worrying about money and losing my job is really getting to me.

2) Jon Bon Jovi has said that he and Frank Sinatra are distant relatives. Tell us about one of your relatives. My favorite uncle served in Vietnam. He seldom spoke about the war and when he did, it was in terms of the people he met -- Vietnamese, Thai and fellow servicemen -- never the battles. But he was moved profoundly by the experience over there and spent his free time with the locals, helping to establish an orphanage for Vietnamese children left homeless by the war. When I was a little girl I idolized him because he was fun and funny and imaginative. But as an adult I realize how much he saw and did in his life and I miss him terribly because I'd love to just talk to him again.
3) Jon and his high school sweetheart tied the knot in Vegas at the Graceland Wedding Chapel, and they remain married today. When you were in school, who did you fantasize about marrying? Where is that person today? During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, Joe Pepitone played first base for the Cubs and I developed a desperate crush on him. On sunny days at the public pool, my girlfriends and I would listen to the games on our transistor radio and fantasize about how sexy and glamorous it would be to marry professional ballplayers and I claimed Pepi for my own. Then he was traded and I moved on to Robert Redford. According to a cursory Google search, Pepi now attends a lot of autograph shows in the New York area, where he is referred to as a "Yankee great."

4) The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation is devoted to supplying local food pantries and helping rebuild neighborhoods hit by natural disasters. Here's your opportunity to give a shameless plug to a charity you support. I like Goodwill a lot. They make merchandise available to families on tight budgets and fund job training programs. Each time I have visited my local store -- whether it's to drop items off or to shop -- everyone I meet is pleasant and hardworking. The same cannot be said of Kmart or WalMart.
5) Jon is often complimented on his hair. What's the most recent compliment you've received? "You know you can handle whatever comes." In the context of the conversation, it was a compliment.

6) Everyone talks about their favorite vacation spots. But, since Sam is crazy, she wants to hear about a place you visited that you wish never to return to. A resort on a small lake in a small town in Wisconsin. My mother loved it so we went every damn year when I was growing up and it was BORING! Please don't make me go back.

7) When was the last time you played cards with an actual deck (as opposed to on your computer)? What game was it? I don't even remember. I have played Yahtzee, Monopoly and Scrabble for real, on actual boards, with my nephew recently. But I'm coming up blank on card games.

8) Do you bite your nails? When I'm bored.

9) Where are you as you answer these 9 questions? What's the view from where you sit? I'm in the living room and can see my pedicured feet and last week's People on the coffee table. (It's embarrassing how much I care about Jennifer Aniston's love life.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Feeling beat up

My older sister sent me a letter today, filled with big words, threatening to sue me over our mother's estate. Or, rather her mother's estate. I guess I came from a petrie dish. The letter -- which she claims she sent by both fax and mail -- doesn't even include my full name, so I never received the fax. The agency I work for is part of a multi-national corporation and I'm not the only one with my first name, so no one bothered to direct it to me.

Anyway, at first I was upset. She's been bullying me my whole life and this is just another episode. At first I started spinning. But then I looked at it again. She's just been trolling the internet and coming up with legal sounding phrases to fuck with my head.

I called her and told her to feel free to call me this evening and ask me any questions she may have. She's chosen not to. 

So tomorrow, I'll get up early and head on over the UPS Store and copy it, then drop it off at my lawyer's office with a note asking him to explain what's going on and why my behavior hasn't been "reprehensible." It's not how I want to spend my Saturday -- I have a full plate with Reynaldo's vet appointment and Kathleen's barbecue -- but it's what I have to do.

When all this is over, I'll never have to deal with her again.

BTW, my oldest friend, who has known my older sister her whole life, tells me to ignore her. I can't, in good conscience, do that. She has a right to know what's going on with the estate (such as it is). She just should have asked me, instead of threatening me. But that's not the point. My oldest friend really came through tonight, and I appreciate it enormously.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday Thirteen #226


Earlier this month I came upon this list, compiled by The Writers Guild of America, of TV's best-written shows. I didn't completely agree with it (I've never been able to stand Seinfeld, which ranked #2) but I found it interesting reading. After all, it's based on the scripting, not the cast or performances.

Last night, when I heard James Gandolfini of The Sopranos died, and last weekend, when I watched and thoroughly enjoyed a Friends marathon on TVLand, I remembered that those two shows made the list.

So here are 13 of my favorites from the list. In parens you'll see the Guild's ranking.
1) The Twilight Zone (#3)
2) M*A*S*H (#5)
3) The Mary Tyler Moore Show (#6)

4) Mad Men (#7)

5) The West Wing (#10)
I was once as obsessed with this as I am now with Mad Men

6) I Love Lucy (#12)

7) The Dick Van Dyke Show (#14)

8) The Daily Show (#17)

9) Friends (#24)

10) Saturday Night Live (#25)

11) Sex and the City (#39)

12) Fawlty Towers (#58)
My friend Mindy and I have been quoting this show for decades now. (My favorite: "I can spend the rest of my life having this conversation. Please try to understand before one of us dies!" Hers: "Don't. Mention. The. War.")


13) Moonlighting (#60)

For more about the Thursday 13,  
or to play along yourself, click here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Progress Report

My little man, Reynaldo, is coming along like a little champ. He hasn't peed on the table in more than two weeks! He's less destructive, too. I attribute it to a number of things --

1) Meds. The vet gave Reynaldo a shot of female hormones. He wants transform Rey's aggressive possessiveness toward me into nurturing and nesting.

2) Prescription cat food.  No magnesium. So now it doesn't hurt when he urinates.

3) A kitty condo. It's nearly the same height as the dining room table, so he has a perch where he can survey the room, a place that's all his.

4) A "Scat Mat." It's a thin piece of plastic, attached to a battery pack. I've draped it over the dining room table. When he steps on it, he gets a minor -- yet harmless -- shock. The same way an electric fence shocks a dog. Stepping on it makes him very ... sad. It makes me sad to see the impact on him, but after a few days we won't need it anymore.

I am proud of him. He is trying as hard to communicate with me as I am with him.

Thanks to my vet, and to Jackson Galaxy's book, for helping me learn to think like a cat.

Happy Birthday, Milord

Who knows how long I've loved you? I know I love you still. Shall I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Guess who is actually writing today

That would be me. I am a happy gal right now. I have actual, real-live, billable work to do!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sunday Stealing

The Weird Question Meme, Part Two

What is your ring size? 9. I have short, fat sausage fingers.

How often do you wear jewelry?  Every day. A ring on each hand, a necklace, earrings and a watch.

When was the last time you consumed alcohol?  Saturday night.

Any big plans for the summer?  Just spending a lot of money I can't afford on things I don't really want to do. One friend is flying in to spend the week with me (even though I told her it was a bad time and warned her that all we would have to eat is PB&J) and another invited me to her joint graduation party for her son (college) and daughter (high school). And then there are a pair of birthdays on my calendar. I know this makes me sound bitchy, especially since my friends are such great people, but I so wanted to economize and I don't see how I can.

What is your favorite comfort food?  Anything ooey, gooey and cheesey.

Do you prefer broccoli or asparagus?  Asparagus

What color are your bedroom walls?  Pale blue

With whom do you live?  Me. (I admire this question's proper grammar.)

Which Star Wars movie is your favorite?  This is easy because I only saw one -- the original

How about Harry Potter?  Never saw any of them

What was the last movie you saw in theaters?  I went to a screening of The Postman Always Rings Twice last week.

Did you get the popcorn or candy?  I had a can of pop

What is the most romantic text in your inbox?  HA!

Have you ever played miniature golf on a date?  Yes.

What’s a phrase you overuse?  "What the fu ..."

Do you always use good grammar? Often, but not always

Do you have an accent or a speech impediment?  When I was a little girl I had trouble with my S's

What did you eat today?  Saturday was my day for pork -- bacon/eggs for breakfast and a porkchop for dinner.

What do you do at work?  In theory I'm an advertising writer, but we haven't been that busy lately.

Do you know the rules to any sports? Yes. I know baseball pretty well.

Do you prefer to watch or play sports?  Watch. I'm completely uncoordinated.

What is your favorite kind of hat to wear?  I don't wear hats.

Do you pray?  Yes

To whom do you pray?  God

What is the closest mountain to your house?  There aren't any. Chicago has much to recommend it, but it's not known for the skiing.

What size engine is in your vehicle?  No car

What do you need to do tomorrow? I hope to get to the health club Monday

About dogs

I love watching people walk their dogs. There seems to be three distinct scenarios -- 1) dog and human are almost one as they traverse the neighborhood; 2) the dog is totally digging the cold or snow or wet weather and the human can't wait to get back indoors; 3) the human really wants the dog to get with the program and enjoy the walk but the dog is resisting it.

Late this morning, I got a good look at scenario #3. We had a quick, summer storm and a girl (about 10) and her dog were caught in it. She was carrying her sodden flip flops in one hand and the leash in the other. Her wet hair was plastered to her back and she was enjoying wandering around barefoot in the rain, looking in store windows and getting progressively more soaked. Puppy, on the other hand, would find teeny tiny dry spots under shop awnings and stubbornly try to stay put.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Saturday 9

If you're not familiar with today's song, you can hear it here

1) Crazy Sam's dad often traveled for business, and always remembered to bring her the little complimentary soaps or body lotions he got from the hotel. When you travel, do you bring back souvenirs? Send post cards? I send cards. My nephew, age 13, tells me I'm the only person he has ever received a postcard from. I think that's kind of sad. I also try to bring back something little for everyone at the office. It helps us feel a little more like a team.
2) When you fly, do you prefer window or aisle? Or doesn't it matter? Aisle. Gotta be aisle.
  3) According to, Jim Anderson (Robert Young) of Father Knows Best is the best TV dad ever. Who is your favorite TV (or movie) dad? I always wished Sheriff Andy was my father. He listened to Opie and seemed to enjoy his son so much.
4) Sam's father was the family disciplinarian. What about you? Do you consider yourself a rule maker, a rule follower, or a rule breaker? I live by myself, so I guess I'm all three.
5) Sam's father was the one who gave her driving lessons. Think back to your first few times behind the wheel. Were you a naturally good driver? Oh, I sucked. I'm a terrible driver.
6) This week's featured artist, Kenny Loggins, was born in Washington state. Have you ever lived in, or traveled to, any of our northern border states? (For those of you not as well versed in geography as Crazy Sam, that's AK, WA, MT, ND, MN, WI, MI PA, NY, VT, and ME.) Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York.

  7) As part of the duo Loggins and Messina, Loggins performed the song "House at Pooh Corner." Do you have a favorite character from the Winnie the Pooh books/movies? Eeyore. No contest.
8) The mercury is going to start rising. How hot is too hot for you? 85º? 95º? Or are you one of those  "the hotter the better" people? I HATE hot weather. If I was in charge of the universe, the mercury would never top 80º.
9) To celebrate Father's Day, Sam is giving away her father's favorite candy: LifeSavers. Would you prefer a roll of Wild Cherry, or Butter Rum, or Winter Green or Peppermint?  Wild Cherry, please.

It arrived!

My futon arrived today, safe and sound, and I'm very happy with it. (I'm sitting on it right now, in fact.) But I spent so much time fixating on how much to tip the delivery men. They agreed to haul my old sofa to the dumpster in exchange for "a couple bucks." How much is "a couple bucks?"

This is why I hate tipping!

I asked around at work and the guy in the next office said he always tips workmen $20, or $10/guy. That seemed a little low to me. But then again, they didn't specify what "a couple bucks" meant. So I gave them each $13. That's $26 for taking my sofa and cushions (which were embarrassingly filthy, btw) down to the dumpster.

$13 doesn't sound that much better than $10, but $26 sounds more fair than $20. WHO MAKES UP THE RULES FOR TIPPING?

Image courtesy of jannoon028,

"Checking in."

"Hi. Haven't heard from you in a while." So began this afternoon's email from my best friend.

I always wondered, in a purely intellectual way, how his sulks end. I mean, I can't be the only one he
goes silent with when he's angry or upset. But, when he's done this with me in the past, I have always gone out of my way to keep the lines of communication open, to make it easy for him to resume contact. This time I didn't. We've played this game too many times, he and I.

It isn't that I don't still admire his moral compass in business matters, his dedication to his daughters, his clear-eyed way of viewing my problems and all the other things that make him wonderful. It's just that at times, he can be soooo oversensitive, so high maintenance, that he leaves me weary.

Oh well, after almost a month, he's back in touch. That's the important thing. I guess I can be just as childish.

Twice in one day

Twice yesterday I completely misjudged people I casually came in contact with. I'm alternately ashamed of myself and grateful for the opportunity to view my world a little differently.

The first was at the health club. Let me premise this by saying I'm 5'2 and wear a size 16. So I'm fat. But the woman I encountered at the club yesterday was obese. HUGE! Between her wide ass and her gym bag, 2/3 of the bench in front of the lockers was gone. I hate that! I was just thinking that I wished I could dress in the same zip code as my locker when I noticed her awful dignity. It took her soooo long to change into her workout clothes. And she was so pitifully vulnerable in the fluorescent lights with her rolls of flesh exposed. She apologized for leaving her locker open -- as if those few inches of space would alleviate my distress -- and it hit me that the very act of coming to the club was courageous for her.

And then there was the family who got on the el. Mom, Dad, baby in stroller and toddler boy. Oh, GOD! There would be crying and fidgeting and scolding ... I need this noise on the way home? Instead, the kids were completely adorable. The little boy especially. He kept pointing in wide-eyed wonder and high-fiving his father. I'd forgotten how amazing it truly is to ride home on railings high above the traffic. I should try to retain that little boy's attitude every day when I board the train.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What makes a heroine?

Margaret Mitchell reportedly said that the theme of Gone With the Wind was survival: What makes some people able to get past catastrophes while others go under?

I recently revisited The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage and found myself both heartbroken by Mary Lincoln and impressed anew by my all-time idol, JBKO. I've always been struck by the similarities between the two First Ladies, and now I'm it occurs to me that they are both similar in spirit to Mitchell's famous Scarlett.

All three used clothes to create an image. Mary was forever slipping away to New York on shopping sprees. She was afraid if she didn't dress at the height of fashion, the nation would consider her too unsophisticated and rural to be "Madame President." Jackie put Cassini on the map. Her jeune fille style after the older, more stuffy Mamie Eisenhower and Bess Truman helped create an atmosphere where youth = glamor, not youth = inexperience, which is what she and her husband feared. And who can forget Scarlett and the dress made from her mother's curtains as she tried to convince Rhett to save Tara?

All three were close to their fathers. Each insisted she was her father's favorite, and believed that's why she was "a man's woman."

All three had their pick of men. Mary Todd of the wealthy Kentucky Todds was seeing established Illinois statesman Stephen Douglas but then tossed him over for a country lawyer named Abraham. Jackie went from a millionaire US President to a billionaire Greek shipping magnate. And Scarlett had the Tarleton boys in love with her, and Charles Hamilton, and Frank Kennedy, and Ashley Wilkes ("you've always had my heart, you cut your teeth on it") and Rhett Butler.

All three lost children. Mary buried Eddie, Willie and Tad. After President Kennedy's burial, Jackie had the bodies of the two children they lost (a stillborn baby girl Jackie called Arabella and newborn Patrick Bouvier Kennedy) moved to his gravesite. And Bonnie Butler's neck broke as she tried to take a jump on her pony.

All three fought bitterly with their sisters. Mary and her older sister Elizabeth had a fractious relationship from the moment Lincoln entered the picture. First Elizabeth didn't want her to marry Abe and allowed Mary to have her first baby in The Globe Tavern where they were boarding instead of in Elizabeth's spacious, private Springfield home. Then Elizabeth complained when Lincoln became President and her husband didn't get a "suitable" patronage job. Lee Radziwill never could compete successfully with Jackie, and it didn't help that Lee was the one who slept with Onassis before she even introduced him to her older sister. Similarly, Scarlett believed her sister Suellen was always jealous of her, and the fact that Scarlett stole Frank Kennedy away from her didn't help.

All three lost husbands. Both Jackie and Scarlett lost their second husbands, too.

All three were the subject of gossip and speculation. Mary's fondness for seances, her Kentucky (Southern) roots and fierce temper were topic A in Washington salons. Remember when India Wilkes saw Ashley and Scarlett together in the lumber mill and then went tattling back to Melly? And if it wasn't for the Kennedys, what would the writers of soap operas and trashy novels do?

All three lost their way of life. For Scarlett, it was when the Yankees burned Atlanta and took over Tara. For Mary and Jackie, it's when they were suddenly left homeless. The Kennedys had sold their Boston home before they moved into the White House. The Lincolns had rented their Springfield home and sold most of their furniture when they left for White House. So literally, neither former First Lady had anywhere to go when she had to vacate for the new President and his family.

Two of them endured. Arguably, Jackie did more than survive. She triumphed. At the time of her death at 64, her obit began with "former First Lady" but went on to include book editor, accomplished preservationist and proud grandmother.

Which isn't to say Mary isn't a compelling historic figure. She has most certainly captured a place in my heart and my imagination. But for me, a heroine has to be a woman I wish to emulate. Mary's sad, turbulent life defeated her, whereas Jackie and Scarlett managed to survive and rise above. So for all their faults (their love of money, their willfulness, their penchant for other women's men), I still look up to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and Katie Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler.